With the country’s investment on human resources in banking and finance sector, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz sees a pool of competitive Filipino professionals who are ready to fill in the demands of the ASEAN 2015’s financial integration, which is marked by free flow of goods, services, investment, skilled labor, and freer flow of capital.

“Our investments in human resources in the banking and finance sector can be seen in our vast pool of skilled finance professionals who have the competencies to work across borders. We are producing around 8,000 certified public accountants (CPAs) and 200,000 graduates of business, finance, and related courses every year,” Secretary Baldoz said in her message at the Regional Tripartite Social Dialogue Conference on Financial Integration in the ASEAN on 6 July 2015, read by Assistant Secretary Katherine B. Brimon.

The DOLE has identified the banking and finance services as one of the key employment generators (KEGs).

In her message, the Secretary also cited the country’s professional associations that have been collaborating with ASEAN professional bodies in skills upgrading and continuous learning and in adopting high-quality and consistent set of standards which are vital for finance companies.

She also said that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted in 2005 the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs), which is being strictly implemented by 85 countries, including some ASEAN member states.

“The adoption of IFRSs shows the quality of the work of our accounting and finance professionals and workers in the presentation of financial reports which is done in accordance with international standards. We are also partnering with educational institutions to inform them of the necessary academic and professional skills that would result in a more competitive and innovative workforce for the banking and finance industry.”

Baldoz said financial integration is crucial to facilitating investment, trade and capital flows, and in reducing costs through increased competition and technology transfer, cross-border banking linkages, foreign participation in ASEAN capital markets, among others.

“As ASEAN member-states look forward to the ASEAN Economic Community by December 2015, we are also guided by the vision to build a semi-integrated financial market by 2020, as provided in the ASEAN Financial Integration Framework (AFIF) and ASEAN Banking Integration Framework (ABIF),” Baldoz added.

ABIF is aimed at ensuring a more stable flow of funds in the region and increasing cross-border trade and investment.

Moreover, Baldoz said the Philippines is seen by the whole world to be a source of  young and highly-skilled workforce, observing that this year, the Philippines is entering its ‘demographic sweet spot’, or that condition where majority of the population joins the workforce – ‘a rising proportion of young, consumption-driven workforce that is expected to drive economic growth.’

“With this potential, we have been pursuing major reforms in our policies to ensure that our human resources remain competitive,” the labor and employment chief said.

Baldoz further said a the study conducted by the International Labor Organization and the Asian Development Bank shows that there will be a net increase of 14 million jobs in six ASEAN economies—Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

The study cites that in Philippines alone, a total of 3.1 million employment, with about 53.5 percent possibly being found in the services sector, will be created through increased trade activities with other ASEAN member states.

The potential growth in the sector is mainly attributed to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which, under the regional integration, would require a wide range of financial services, such as micro-financing and insurance, as part of building their regional and global competitiveness.

The Secretary however emphasized the need to recognize the challenges in regional integration. “The promise of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) can and will only be realized if we are able to surmount these challenges that lie ahead of us, and where we are able to manage adjustments, especially when the impact will bring risks and vulnerabilities to the working population and small enterprises, Baldoz said.

To ensure the mobility of Filipino professionals, the Philippines has crafted the Mutual Recognition Agreements or MRAs which establish the skills or relevant experience that the professionals need in order to gain certification in another country, and ultimately to work abroad.

Currently, the Philippines has signed seven Mutual Recognition Agreements in the  engineering services, nursing services, architectural services, surveying qualification, medical practitioners, dental practitioners, tourism professionals, and accounting services.

The MRA is attuned to the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF), which has been agreed upon and adopted by the ASEAN member states to be a common reference framework on the recognition of skill across ASEAN and in the consequent labor mobility and human resource competitiveness.

END/GSR

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